Well, We’re Waiting – The Committed Indian.com’s Season Preview: The Goalies (Duck!)

Saving the best for last, eh? Obviously, nothing is going to get the stomach acids and tension headaches going more for Hawks fans than thinking about the goaltending situation. It was the biggest question heading out of last season and it still is heading into this one (and make no mistake, Martin Fucking Brodeur would have solved exactly nothing about it). A lot of you have already chalked this one as the Hawks downfall this season. I won’t say you’re wrong. But I’m not sure I’m there yet.

Ok, put your waders on. This is not going to be clean.

Corey Crawford

2011-2012: 55 starts – 30-17-7 – .903 SV% – 2.72 GAA – 28.0 shots-faced/game

Yeah ok, it’s not pretty. Crow only faced 0.3 shots more per game last year than the season before, so there’s only so much you can pin on the defense in front of him. But Crow himself would tell you he simply wasn’t good enough. And he seems to get how much is riding on this season for him. He certainly hasn’t hidden from or not taken responsibility for what went on last year.

So what was the problem? And let’s try and be a little more detailed than simply, “He didn’t stop the puck.” Through the first half or three-quarters of the season, it appeared that Crawford was attempting to be more aggressive than he had in his rookie year. Instead of letting the puck come to him and using his size, he was really challenging shooters and trying to cut angles.

But this didn’t make a lot of sense. Crow has never moved that well, and his angles were off even when he was good, especially with players streaking down the wings. He’s a big guy, he really has no reason to get out too far when he fills so much of the net as is. It’s hard to know if this was Crawford’s decision or the Hawks’, but that doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that it led to Crawford going swimming far too often and leaving much more open space behind him. It also caused pucks to get on him faster than he was accustomed to, which led to some rebound control issues. This of course led to a loss of confidence and you know where that goes.

What was so disappointing about those two playoff OT pants-pissing was that Crawford had finished the season strongly, with a 1.88 GAA in his last 17 decisions (though his SV% was still .904 in that time).

Another stat worth taking a look at is that Crow’s SV% while shorthanded dropped 50 points, from .870 to .829 from 2011 to 2012. And quite simply, neither is good. However, this is one you can apportion more blame to the minions in front of him and the drunken puppet-master wielding them. Because if the Hawks aren’t going to clear the crease but also aren’t going to do much about stopping shots from the point, well…

So what this year? You can argue that there’s just as much evidence that Crow can be good as there is that he’s bad. After all, he had the exact same amount of appearances his rookie year as he did last year, and was much better. What that most likely means — occam’s razor again — is that he’s somewhere in the middle. So how in the middle can he be and the Hawks still win? If you split the two right in the center you’d get a .910 SV% and a 2.51 GAA. Is that enough? It’s hard to say. That was just about Niemi’s SV% in 2010, but of course that was a better team in front of him.

Mostly, Crawford just needs to return to what he does best, and that’s a more conservative style. He doesn’t need to be five feet outside the crease. He should just be at the top of it. Let his size do the work, and not give himself so much ground to cover when teams make him move. If he does that, I don’t think he’ll be great, but I think he’ll be good enough. I think. I hope. I pray.

Ray Emery (aka Razor)

2011-2012: 34 appearances – 15-9-4 – .900 SV% – 2.81 GAA – 28.2 shots-faced/game

Honestly, I’m more worried about this than I am about Crawford. People didn’t pay attention mostly because he wasn’t Crawford, and Q might not have either, but Emery pretty much sucked last year. He wore the a lot of that February Death March last year, and some of those games he couldn’t shift blame to anyone else. It’s not that he was letting in nine goals (outside of Edmonton), but letting in goals at the worst times that he simply couldn’t. Games in Colorado, Calgary, and Nasvhille come to mind.

It’s easy to know why. He can’t move. Once teams get him shifting side-to-side, you can pretty much forget it. That’s not going to change a year later. So don’t expect miracles.

Which is a problem. Because in a shortened season, those one or two games you toss away because your backup isn’t up to it can be gotten around. They can’t when you only have 48. Maybe the frequency of the games means your back up won’t sit as long and get stale, but I don’t know that’s going to matter.

And if you’re looking for outside help, it’s going to be hard for teams to completely fall out of it in this schedule and looking to dump players. But Niklas Backstrom will be a free agent next summer, y’know in case Matt Hackett is actually the real deal.

  • amontesawesome

    I’m actually kind of terrified of Emery too. Given the Hawks’ high number of back to backs plus the league wide frequency of 3 in 5s he’s going to have to play a decent amount. And that is not a good thing.

    • Sparky_The_Barbarian

      I’m terrified of Emery, too, but in a different way. At his age, is he a broken hip waiting to happen?

      • Titanium is rather durable. No need to worry yourself.

        But now I’m worried – because titanium is fucking durable.

        • Z-man19

          He has only one titanium hip, the Harding Solution is back on the table

          • Accipiter

            Paging Jeff Gillooly.

        • Joe Banks

          Why???? Why?????

      • M7

        He’s only 30. Albeit his hip is likely 50…

    • Waylon

      It’s really quite simple – bring back Marty and his flash pads.

      • Joe Banks

        If you’ve seen Carter Hutton handle the puck, he’s a younger version of the same thing over again…

  • So, the question that goes hand in hand with this post is – if both netminders show no change from last year, what is the solution? Who is available?

  • Apothecaries’ Weight

    Well, Karlsson and Irving are on waivers….

    • 2883

      I really like Leland Irving….

      • Apothecaries’ Weight

        I like his name.

        • 2883

          He’s a young goalie, cheap for the next few years. And maybe talented enough to supplant Emery.

          • M7

            Irving has hit the shithouse pretty badly. With the Abbotsford Heat this season (AHL) and could only get 6 starts due to being outplayed by Brust and Taylor. Both of whom are older with likely no future at the big club. Factor in Kari Ramo coming over next season, with Laurent Brossoit and Joni Ortio highly touted junior aged goalies, I’d say the Flames are as close to “given up” on Irving as it gets. Obviously he and Karlsson have been waived such that the man who loses the back-up job can be sent to Abbotsford but i don’t think either is ideally cut for the job.

          • 2883

            As a team who currently stars Carter Hutton and Alec Richards in net in Rockford and one Ray Emery in the Pros, Depth is never a bad thing

          • girlphoenix

            I think we have some good goalies lower down in the system. From what I hear, Kent Simpson isn’t too terrible and Mac Carruth is pretty good.

          • 2883

            Simpson was a 2nd round pick of the hawks IIRC back in the 2008 range. Meh… We have a lot of meh prospects, I think it was why we were expected to go after one of the “big 3 ” (Subban, Vasilevsky, Dansk) in this past draft. TT just fell and had to be picked over the guy I would’ve taken there Vasilevsky

  • Waylon

    I’d like to see Crow also do far less stickhandling behind his net – far too clumsy back there for my tastes.

    • Sparky_The_Barbarian

      Agreed. If Crow comes out to play the puck, he should plan on icing it and taking the face off.

  • raditzzzz

    now the conversation is getting interesting.

    what to do if there is another flameout with crow? the 2013 ufa list is awfully old, the only person in the top ten cap hit who is under 30 years old is jimmy howard. this includes backstrom, tim thomas, khabi, nabokov and mike smith. (here is the full list: http://www.capgeek.com/free-agents/?year_id=2013&team_id=-1&position_id=G&fa_type_id=2)

    with that in mind, it looks like the hawks revolving goalie position will continue for the future, unless they can develop someone on the inside who takes the reigns. assuming crow doesn’t play well enough to complete his contract. imo this year will determine whether he sticks around or not.

    interesting rfas are rask, bernier and neuvirth, but rask will be locked. guh, will our goalie troubles ever end?

    • 2883

      i don’t think you can offer sheet someone…. I think that Crawford will be kept til the end of his contract (next season)… and the Hawks go with stopgaps until they have another young goalie ready to take over. Kent Simpson is clearly not the answer but there are others down there… It’ll be interesting to see this next group of goalies coming up the pipeline

      • Joe Banks

        Johan Mattsson is languishing in Kearney, Nebraska for the USHL’s Tri City Storm.
        11-12-3, 2.84/.913
        Does that mean he’s on double secret probation?

        • 2883

          No it means he sucks 🙁

    • Joe Banks

      I’d take a flyer on Jacob Markstrom…

  • Sparky_The_Barbarian

    While we’ve got a major issue here, I’m with Stan (so far). Let’s not mortgage our future talent or put ourselves in Salary Cap hell for a stop gap solution. How many teams regret having signed their current goalie to $5 MM or more? Van? Philly? Buffalo?

    • Joe Banks

      Khabby? Huet?

  • I know nothing about Goalie development. What information can be absorbed from the fact that Carruth was sent back down to the Winterhawks? Is he no longer a viable prospect?

    • Roland2327

      Usually goalies take longer to develop. Look at Crawford he got an NHL gig at 26 or 27. I wouldn’t read anything into it except he isn’t ready for the NHL and he had to be returned to his junior team because of the agreement between the CHL and NHL.

    • girlphoenix

      I think he was sent back because he was still junior eligible and why not. I do remember that the Winterhawks weren’t expecting him back and were kinda stumped at what to do at the beginning of the season. He’s killing it for the Winterhawks though. He just set a franchise win record (106) with his fourth shutout of the season as the team won its twelfth straight game.Though I did just learn that he is 1 day older than Kent Simpson, our goalie in Toledo in the ECHL.

      • Accipiter

        What is this “shutout” you speak of ?

        • Z-man19

          Don’t worry about it Jave, just don’t bring it up during the game Saturday.

          • Joe Banks

            There’s always some dork has to jinx it…

    • raditzzzz

      i think stan bow just made some moves with his other ahl prospects and that closed the door for him this year. with his performance in the whl over his tenure in portland, i just can’t see how they deny him a job in rockford next year. he has been my darkhorse in-organization guy for a while now. hopefully he gets a chance and runs with it.

      • I saw him play a few times in portland. Wasn’t paying attention because I don’t know how to evaluate goaltenders, but I have a soft spot for anyone who comes up through the winterhawks,.

        • Joe Banks

          I think dat Hossa guy was a winterhawk…

    • Joe Banks

      Big Mac is our best hope, but 2 years away.

  • Reading tweets and practice rosters… Am I the only one that thinks it is pretty silly to think Shaw will be centering the third line for any length of time at all?

    • it is pretty silly to think Shaw will be centering the third line for any length of time at all.


  • capra

    What if?

    • Joe Banks

      If Mike Smith can do it, why not?

  • ryanbibich

    There is no hope… The only solution is that the puck stays in the offensive zone and we can manage to score 5 or more goals a game.

  • Joe Banks

    Sam, that is the most objective open minded evaluation of Crawford I have seen. Great stuff.

    Last year I noticed that coming out to challenge worked out very well for Crow in shootouts. (My guess is Jimmy Waite worked on that with him for that purpose)

    The problem was, he started to use the same philosophy in game situations. Not so good.

    One thing I won’t hold against Crow is the defense overall did a piss poor job of clearing out the crease. Especially that mouth agape kid (looked like the greeter at Walmart). Dylan Olsen did a good job, but then there’s that whole “rest of his defensive game” problem. I’m really hoping Rozsival and Brookbank will make an impact in that area. We shall see.

  • TheFullAmonte

    Any updates on Carter Hutton? When I saw him at the beginning of the year he seemed pretty good, although I haven’t watched them much lately. I know he isn’t really an answer but might he have a shot at being better than Emery?

    • girlphoenix

      Hutts is a decent AHL goalie, but not really NHL-caliber. I would not expect him up in the big show.

      • Joe Banks

        If Carter Hutton winds up in the show, I’m gonna need a liver transplant

    • I give it a month max before they bring Hutton up for an “audition” during a back-to-back if Emery isn’t cutting it.

      Backup goalies are going to be more important than ever with the condensed schedule. And each game will essentially be worth just over 3pts (for a win) compared to an 82-game season. Even good teams won’t be able to afford playing a weak backup in order to rest their starter at the expense of losing points.

      An extreme example would be the NFL. The Hawks lost 9 in a row last year and still made the playoffs. Lose 9 in a row in the NFL and you’re toast. (unless you’re in the NFC West)

      • AirTrafficAJ

        Maybe last year. West was WAY tougher in the NFC. Seattle and SF are legit.

        • I got a “dislike.” Woot!

          Yeah, what I alluding to was 2 years ago when Seattle and SF were both 7-9 and Seattle got into the playoffs with the tie-breaker.

  • TMFF

    One Goalie sucked, the other was worse and the defense blew Elephant balls for both. Those simple things get fixed, it is in the bag!

  • Accipiter

    I didn’t mind the signing of Emery to a one year deal when I thought that the lockout was going to last the entire season.

  • Sparky_The_Barbarian

    I still say: Play Crow AND Razor in the crease and skate four.

    • Toews still makes funny faces!

      Mmmm. I’m pretty sure there are rules against having two goalies on the ice at once for one team. BUT I do like your train of thought!